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Louisville a #4 Seed? The Top 10 Reasons It Makes Sense

One would think that seeding Louisville a #4 was a crime against humanity.   But before digging out your copy of the Geneva Convention or looking up travel information to the Hague, consider that the NCAA committee has long used RPI as a guide.  This is not a secret.  Just like the committee stopped looking at recency, it is what the committee is supposed to do.  The RPI helps gauge schedule strength.  In any event, here are the top 10 reasons the Committee got it right in deeming the Cards a 4 seed:

A) RPI–Louisville’s RPI is 20.  If RPI was the sole criteria, Louisville would be a 5 seed.  We are glad that RPI is NOT the sole criteria.  But this is one characteristic that supports the #4 seed.

B) Conference strength.  Here is how the conferences were ranked, courtesy of

Conf RPI Rank Overall RPI Non-Conf
SOS Rank
RPI Rank
Avg RPI Median RPI Hi RPI Low RPI
Big 12 1 0.582 1 0.579 60 41 3 206
Big Ten 2 0.575 2 0.572 62 53 6 140
Pac-12 3 0.571 3 0.568 72 49 2 209
Big East 4 0.566 4 0.563 73 60 5 147
ACC 5 0.559 5 0.560 86 75 8 239
SEC 7 0.552 6 0.555 95 85 1 241
A-10 6 0.558 7 0.552 87 71 13 215
American Athletic 8 0.546 8 0.542 110 101 20 227

This is not even close.  The American lags well behind the Big East, as well as the top heavy SEC and the committee darlings in the A-10.  And it is not just because of the conference woes–the Non-Conference scheduling was pretty poor also.  The worst team in the Big East, DePaul, would have had the 7th highest RPI in the American and be within striking distance of #6.  After all, playing Rutgers, South Florida, UCF, and Temple probably would have helped DePaul’s record quite a bit.  The American dragged Louisville down–way down.

C)  Of course, this is also a matter of Louisville taking care of business when given the opportunity.  Against top 50 RPI teams, according to ESPN, Louisville was 5-5.

Look at the comparable records for the 12 teams seeded 1, 2, and 3: 10-2, 11-3, 12-7, 3-0, 6-3, 7-5, 6-5, 5-4, 9-5, 8-5, 10-5, 7-2.  All top 3 seeds were above .500 in games against top 50 RPI opponents.

The teams seeded #4?  9-5, 6-5, and 3-3.  Like Louisville, San Diego State had a .500 record against top 50 RPI opponents.

D) Let’s expand out to record against top 100 RPI teams:

  1. Florida 17-2, Arizona 16-4, Wichita State 10-0, Virginia 13-5
  2. Villanova 16-3, Kansas 18-9, Wisconsin 17-6, Michigan 15-7
  3. Duke 12-6, Iowa State 15-7, Creighton 14-7, Syracuse 15-3
  4. UCLA 11-5, San Diego State 6-3, Michigan State 12-8, Louisville 9-5
  5. VCU 12-7, Oklahoma 11-8, Cincinnati 9-6, St. Louis 9-6
  6. Ohio State 13-7, Baylor 12-10, UNC 11-6, UMass 13-7

Anything look wrong with that?  Louisville, again, seems right in line. Very few games against top 100 teams.

E) Louisville’s 4 wins between 50 and 100 were SMU twice (53), Missouri State (84), and Louisiana-Lafayette (92).  Not exactly a crop of elite teams.  SMU’s best non-conference win was 20-9 Sam Houston State with an RPI of 113.

F) The Cards had 29 wins, but 20 were against teams with an RPI greater than 100.

G) Of the 20 wins against opponents with an RPI greater than 100, 16 were against teams with an RPI above 150.  Actually, it is 16 wins against teams with an RPI of 179 or greater.

H) Louisville was 13-5 against teams in the top 150 of RPI.  No other seeded team had less than 16 (San Diego State).  The 3 seeds averaged 18 such wins.  The 2 seeds averaged 20.8.  The 1 seeds averaged 21.

I)  LRPI–road/neutral RPI.  Louisville is #23.   Nobody seeded 1, 2 or 3 was below #13.

J) Louisville’s best non-conference win was Southern Mississippi, a team that is a 3 seed in the NIT.  Think about THAT for a second.

As you can see, Louisville simply was not tested.  When it was tested, it was wins within a weak conference and losses outside the conference.  Wichita State is maligned for its schedule, but the Shockers have one more win against top 100 teams and six more wins against top 150 teams.  The committee may have been able to use Louisville’s surge to slide them up into a 2 or 3 seed, but this would have run contrary to the seeding protocol currently in place.  There was an ample basis for the #4 seed, even if folks think Louisville is primed to play better than that seeding.

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7 thoughts on “Louisville a #4 Seed? The Top 10 Reasons It Makes Sense

  1. And yet you had them as a 2 seed. Does the eyeall test ever come into play or are we just stuck with numbers? Syracuse lost to BC, NC to Belmont & Virginia has several bad losses. The Cards do not have a bad loss, shouldnt that mean anything? I would put the American top 5 against any conference, period. Who else won their last 4 games by around 120 points combined? ESPN had them up for a 1, you had them a 2, i had them a 3 & the were given a 4. If this were the only issue with the commite then i would a have given them an A for their work. But looking at all of the issues & contradictions i have to give them a Cthis year. Why give a criteria and stick to it?

    • I had them as a 2 because I thought the Committee would ignore its directive to seed based on the whole season.

      Had Syracuse not lost those games and instead lost to 2 decent teams, they would have been a 2. bad losses dropped them to 1. UNC has been enigmatic all year–bad loss/good win. Virginia was a 1 by default, with Michigan losing. Plus, Virginia had the same 11-1 finish as Louisville.

      I also think pairing the Cards and Shockers makes sense. Both had poor scheduling relative to the field.

      As for those 120 points, meh. After looking at Louisville’s entire schedule, it is really not that good at all. Jurich needs some stones.

      • There should have been a better mix of the numbers and the eyeball test. My point has been that they have followed a different criteria throughout the bracket. Michigan has better numbers than both Virginia & Wichita St but were bumped from a 1 due to losing tbeir last game, as an example.

        As for Jurich having the stones to schedule good teams you should realize that the Cards SOS is typicaly around 20 & will be there again next year. Memphis, Kentucky & Indiana are a few non conference teams you will see on the schedule next season. Your assumption of Jurich stones is not valid here. Where it maybe valid is on the football side in the past with his demands of home and home series with top teir teams. Also I believe Pitino has a lot to say about his schedule.

        Enough talking, lets get the dance going!

        • Wichita State had to be a #1. To do otherwise would be to slap every midmajor conference in the fact. They had to be.

          Michigan v Virginia is a good argument because they were the two finalists for the same spot. Virginia’s RPI was better. Virginia’s BPI (whatever that is) is better. But even if Michigan was better, being able to play in the Midwest as a #2 is preferable to #1 in the East. I think that geography and conference issues are oft ignored.

          Pairing Louisville and Wichita State is fair. One could argue that Michigan was a #1, Wichita State was a #2, Louisville was a #3, and Duke was a #4. If so, the same matchups.

          Pitino needs to stop complaining and just go win the games too. Sorry about Manhattan. But why not pit two teams with similar styles. That is FUN. We see it all the time in the Big Dance.

  2. First, lets address your ignorant statement that “Jurich needs some stones.” I think his record speaks for itself. The fact is Tom Jurich has showed he is well endowed in the stones department. Him forcing out Denny Crum for Rick Pitino was a very risky move that has paid off in spades. Next, Tom Jurich rehiring Bobby Petrino took a lot of guts. He knew it was going to be an unpopular move. He knew he was going to get a lot of heat. He did it anyway because he has the guts to make the call he thinks is best.

    As for the seeding, I think it is a matter of perspective and philosophy. If the you seed a team based on what the team in question played like in December, then yes I think the 4 seed was correct. Further, if the Cards go out and crap the bed and lose in the first two rounds, then I’d say the 4 seed was the right call. However, if you seed tournaments on who you think are the best teams. I think that the 4 seed was the wrong call. Louisville, as most teams, was a completely different team now than in December. Louisville is vastly improved from its December version and is playing some of the best ball in the country. Looking at their KenPom Offensive and Defensive effciency numbers, they are statistically playing within the parameters of a top 8 team which means they should have received either a 1 or 2 seed. With that being said, Louisville has to live up to those statistics and if they lose before the Elite 8, then putting them at 4 seed was the right call. If, however, the Cards come out and blow through the Midwest Bracket, then the 4 seed was too low.

    • The committee’s task is clear. You schedule based on the entire season. Anyone arguing difficulty is ignoring that basic fact. They changed the philosophy. Maybe they should change it back. But until they do, Lville is a 4.

      As for Jurich, he failed as to the football schedule. He failed as to the basketball schedule. Fortunately, moving into the ACC will help ensure that Louisville schedules better. Let’s just hope he does not panic and schedule cupcakes out of concern for his tough schedule.

      • No one is arguing SOS, it was pathetic this season. My point is the same as the ESPN experts that the Cards are better than a 4. As i said, i had them as a 3 so why are we arguing over 1 spot? I havent heard Pitino complain but i havent heard any of his press conferences the last 2 days. I agree with Wichita being a 1 & love them in our region, bring them on again! My biggest complaint is with the bracket as a whole & not just on one seeding.

        As for Jurich stones lets look at the facts. Yes this season SOS was pathitic but how are you supposed to know how good a confernce is before playing a game in it? Im glade he didnt over react and schedule series with some teams & be stuck with them & all the ones already scheduled starting next season. Shit happens in a transition year. If you look at the Cards SOS according to the RPI their average SOS is 27 dating back to 2004. In the 4 years prior to this year their average SOS is 7. That looks loke Jurich has good stones to me. Their best SOS came in 2012 with a #2 & their worst was #59 in 2005. This season was an adnormality as shown by hiatory.

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